ReMix: Chrono Trigger 'The Place We Knew'

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Chrono Trigger: Chrono SymphonicChrono Trigger

Jill joins forces with Reuben for this lovely vocal w/ piano accompaniment of To Far Away Times from the Chrono Symphonic project; Compyfox mastered, Claado Shou wrote the lyrics, and Evilhead assisted with their partial translation. Expectations naturally run high for both Kee's piano playing and Goldin's singing, so hearing the two work together should hypothetically get chills running down spines and what not, and in this case the theory tests true in the lab. Recording is not an issue at all - Reuben's piano is wonderfully clear, sparkling on the highs and resonating with warmth on the lows, and Jill's voice is airy and crystalline. The arrangement itself is very direct; a relatively straightforward adaptation of the original to solo piano and a largely unaltered vocal melody line don't stray too far off the beaten path, but there's enough variation in tempo, and of course the new material any original vocal brings to the game, to make this distinct. I don't think one can talk about this mix without addressing the issue of language shifting in songs, so I'm going to do so as equitably as possible. As any anime fan knows, the Japanese are quite fond of inserting English phrases, often quite goofy ("Pick Me Up, Foxy Night Game!"), into their J-pop, commonly used as anime openers and ending themes. This ReMix is a bit more tasteful (and, thankfully, coherent) than those instances of engrish, but there's still a question here as to the difficulty of segueing into another language within the same song. Of course, there are dozens of examples of spontaneous verses in French from the likes of Blondie (Sunday Girl), E.L.O. (Hold on Tight), and many more, but it might be easier to perform the switch in faster-paced or goofier songs, or from English to a romance language. In my mind, the transition to Japanese from English in a song is... a bit tougher to pull off, artistically. I'm not just talking about appearing like a Japanese fanboy or fangirl for tossing in their language in an arbitrary fashion - I don't think this usage in particular was arbitrary at all, and I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, elsewhere. I'm talking more about the starker linguistic discrepancies and actual sound of juxtaposing one language adjacent to the other; I think it can probably work, but selectively, and an isolated piano/vocal arrangement might not be the most conducive context. That being said, it ultimately didn't bother me too much - whatever the language, even if she was singing in semi-gibberish ala Cocteau Twins, Jill's voice would be pleasing, and the lyrics themselves have a meter that works and a narrative appropriate to the material. However, I can see the switching being an issue for some, and I wouldn't dismiss such critiques as necessarily illustrating bias against otaku or Japanophilia or what not, though I'm sure that might be a motivating factor for some. Anyways, enough sidebar pontification - pixietricks and Reuben Kee have created a superb collaboration that showcases their respective talents and packs an emotional punch - it's a very fitting arrangement of a classic theme, that brings closure to an epic while still seeming vast and brimming with potentiality.


Discussion: Latest 15 comments/reviews; view the complete thread or post your own.
on 2013-04-30 00:07:45
This song had me thinking it was going in a different direction until the singing finally came in.
This is great, the piano performances here are magnificent, and the japanese singing didnt sound awkward at all.

The lyrics are so beautiful, and fit the melody very well. To be honest I cant even remember the source, but what you did here works so well.
Easily a classic CT remix. Cant say much about this - its just awesome.
on 2010-12-19 13:09:19
I never understood all the controversy about this song. Its BEAUTIFUL, one of my all-time faves on OCR. This degree of emotion and expressiveness are rarely heard on the site, even today. I cant comment on the accuracy of the Japanese, but if one can appreciate beautiful Japanese songs with mangled English portions (Zone of Enders, anyone?), then why not the other way around? Aurally, I dont find the switch jarring at all, but rather a pleasant surprise. Bravo to Reuben and Jill for a terrific mix.
on 2010-11-01 21:55:30
This is such a beautiful song, but now it has a bit of a sad angle to it to me due to Kee being gone :-( .

Reuben does a good job with his accompaniment to Jills singing, providing a nice duet. The song has some emotion to it, exuding gentleness and a shared wonder at what has happened to the joy-filled past.

Its sad that Reuben isnt here to see who he has touched with his music, and I pray that he is in a better place :-( .
on 2009-12-08 18:13:10
This is probably the only song from Chrono Symphonic that I still listen to regularly, its brimming with emotion and life unlike a lot of other songs on that album, which felt like a good effort but not very inspired. This is extraordinarily beautiful, I love how Reubens flowing, rolling piano seems to intensify or slow down at the most opportune moments to accentuate the voice.

Really stunning, this is a monumental remix for both parties involved and I still cannot find fault with it.
on 2009-12-08 14:06:56
good stuff, nice playing and singing of my favorite theme from chrono trigger, which is one of my favorite soundtracks. Doesnt get much better.. 8-)
Jillian Aversa
on 2007-07-15 19:04:28
FYI, the reason we did the lyrics half in Japanese is that Claado Shou (the director of Chrono Symphonic) thought it would be a nice tribute to the composers and makers of the game. Especially since it was the "credits" track for the movie script - that kind of thing is done a lot in foreign films. It wasnt my decision, but I think the thought was nice.

Also, semer (if you ever read this)... I studied Japanese for over 2 years and used it in Japan to great success. Unfortunately, half of those studies came *after* the song was recorded, hehe. The English lyrics were written by Claado, and the translation into Japanese was done by EvilHead (a member of the forums here who teaches English in Japan). He told me my pronounciation was next to perfect... Oh well.

There are times that I wish we could redo this song, especially given the nature of the collab. Reuben recorded the piano *before* I sang for it, so all the timing issues are a result of trying to follow his lead with tempo and inflection when we werent ever together in the same room. Just doesnt work; the pianist is supposed to watch the singer in live performance. But Im still glad to have it in my OCR repertoire. Thankfully not everyone out there is an otaku nut, and can at least be touched by the music itself.
Black Mage
on 2007-07-11 11:43:28
This is certainly a beautiful song, Pixie and Reuben. The lyrics are great and I love the very "end credits" feel of the song. My only real criticism is over the Japanese lyrics. I wonder if it was really necessary to repeat the lyrics in Japanese? I just feel that they dont really add to the song, they feel like theyre just there to fill in the song.

Other than that, I love the song!
on 2007-06-09 12:04:24
So I know my comment isnt going to be original, but I do feel the need to add it.

This remix is the kind of thing I wish I could do: really great musical backgrounds with emotive singing.

However, the Japanese really, really ruined it for me. Yeah, I said it wasnt original, didnt I? Whoever said the pronunciation didnt bother them surprises me; it was driving me nuts the whole time; I even went to fetch headphones to make sure it wasnt my terrible speakers doing something. It wasnt. =( The translation, also, does leave something to be desired. My Japanese isnt nearly perfect, but thats the kind of thing Id proofread with a Japanese native-speaking friend before recording.

Now, Im not saying that my Japanese singing pronunciation is perfect or that my voice is as good as Jills - because neither is true - but I also think that it is generally best for one to not attempt large amounts of singing in a language one does not pronounce very well. This I say also coming from a choral background. It drove me crazy when we sang Japanese songs in choir, because the pronunciation was so bad I had to laugh in order not to be annoyed out of my mind when I was supposed to be singing.

Thats not all thats weird with the vocals; the timing even in the English feels... wrong. Im not even talking about the tempo separations, Im talking about syllables that feel poorly placed, musically.

Personally, Id love to see this song rerecorded without the Japanese, and with a bit more attention paid to the timing. Until the Japanese came in, I was really enjoying myself listening to it, but it was so jarring that it really shattered my enjoyment. :-/

Disclaimer: I make no claims to be able to do better at anything I criticize above, and I mean my criticisms to be constructive. If anything comes across sounding mean or personal, I dont mean it that way at all and I apologize.
on 2007-02-24 03:19:12
Im becoming a fan pixie ... this song is absolutely perfect to me in every mAnner

Reubens piano play is peerless, pixies voice make me shiver nearly cry and i didnt expect her to sing in japanese ... the accent mite not be perfect but this never gets in the way of loving that ... and well all chrono players know that tune and many like it ...

In 3 Words

on 2007-02-15 03:25:27
very very nice song 10/10

what would it take/ how many people would reuben require me to kill to get ahold of sheet music of that piano part?
on 2007-02-12 05:43:50
The only thing that put me in a loop is the different language of lyrics later on in the song, but other than my stupid indiscretion I think that this song deserves an A+ or 10/10 ;D
on 2007-02-09 19:15:47
Ill be truthfull, I dont like this version of the song. Mostly the lyrics, especially the Japanese part. The vocalist isnt very good at singing in Japanese.

Also, she speeds up at some parts and seems to leave the piano in the dust, and completely loses the feeling of the song. But im biased, I believe this song shouldnt have lyrics at all.
on 2006-12-25 12:28:11
Very very lovely stuff here. Reuben does all sorts of neat piano things (that Ive seen. He could be leading some sort of huge underground death metal movement for all I know). Piano work is nice, I also like your mixes from And Pixietrixessss singing is gorgeous. I dont speak Japanese, so she could be telling me to eat poo and kill myself, and I wouldnt be the wiser. Its still mighty pretty to hear, regardless of what shes saying.

Good work, you two.
on 2006-10-15 12:50:34
Does anyone have a link to the orchestra version? I would be in debt to whoever posted it.
on 2006-09-16 16:59:22
i would love to do a duet with you pixietricks. but that wont happen. but still i love your work pixietricks. keep on singing.